Job as a Manager

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Pauline York has completed one year of a trainee management scheme. She is a section manager in the perfumery department of their store in Cheadle, Cheshire.

How does the graduate scheme run?

It lasts for 12 to 18 months, depending on your progress, and the aim is for graduates completing it to become department managers in one of the stores.

I spent the first six months of the scheme getting experience of working in London and at a provincial branch, in different departments of the store. A lot of training is involved in that period too, in customer service, selling skills and practical things like working the till and hand held computer terminals.

When did you become a section manager?

Six months into the scheme, while working in the toy department of our Oxford Street store in London. In most departments, there is a manager and several section managers. I'm one of the section managers in perfumery, dealing with three key brands.

What does your management job involve?

I have to make sure the section is running smoothly, looking smart, tidy and well stocked, and that all customers are being served quickly. This means spending about 50 per cent of time on the shop floor. I also organise events, such as beauty weeks and samples and special offers.

I spend some time in the office, as I monitor the sales figures and money spent on my brands, and plan special events and promotions. I look after the day-to-day management of staff in my section too, which includes individual brand consultants as well as John Lewis sales staff.

What do you like best?

I like being in the shop with the team of staff and customers around me. It's lively and varied. I enjoy going to 'sell-ins' with area managers and buyers, to see and discuss new products and terms for buying them in quantities.

What challenges do you face in your job?

It's challenging to motivate a team of people to achieve sales targets, whilst having to spend time with individual customers.

What skills and qualities do you need to be a manager?

You have to be focused on leadership, able to listen carefully to people, set a direction for staff and work to achieve targets. It's physically tiring work, so you need to be resilient, with stamina and lots of enthusiasm for what you're doing. You have to deal pleasantly and efficiently with queries from customers, and sometimes solve problems and handle complaints.

What about your future?

I love working for the company. They're very good at providing ongoing training and development, such as the leadership skills course I've recently been on. There are also benefits like store discounts and company holiday centres.

The graduate trainee scheme will lead to a departmental manager role for me at a John Lewis store. I'm looking forward to the new challenges and extra responsibilities that will bring.

Pauline's route to her job as a manager

  • Degree in English
  • Six-week summer placement scheme
  • Graduate trainee scheme
  • Section manager in perfumery department

Pauline's management tips

  • Try to get some work experience in the type of business you are most interested in.
  • Being captain of a team, or leading a group at school or college is useful experience, for going into management work.

Management related jobs

Salary of a manager

  • Many companies run graduate trainee schemes.
  • Salaries for graduate trainees depend very much on the type of work they are doing, the size and sometimes the location of the company.
  • New graduate trainees can earn from £19,000 to £22,000, rising in some cases, to between £23,000 and £27,000 once a period of the scheme is complete.

How to become a manager

  • A degree is required to apply for a graduate trainee scheme as a fast-track route to a management job.
  • Sometimes, the degree subject may need to be relevant to the type of work the graduate is going to do.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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